Synopsis by Nathan Southern
The epic-length compendium Attenborough in Paradise and Other Personal Voyages combines seven hours of rare specials hosted by and directly related to preeminent naturalist and explorer Sir David Attenborough. The program begins with its titular special, "Attenborough in Paradise," culled from a 1996 portion of the Natural World television series -- in which the genial host ventures deep into the New Guinea jungles to observe and film rare species of exotic birds. It then hearkens back to 1971 for "A Blank on the Map," an outing in which Attenborough and his film crew team up with Australian explorer Laurie Bragg, venture into a (literally) uncharted mountainous region of New Guinea, and happen upon über-primitive Biami tribesmen who have never before laid eyes on Caucasians. Part three, the 2000 "The Lost Gods of Easter Island," finds Attenborough attempting to define the history of a most unusual wooden figure that he purchased at an auction a decade prior -- an object sporting direct ties to the 18th century exploration of Easter Island. Part four, "Bowerbirds: The Art of Seduction," finds Attenborough back in New Guinea for a long, fond cinematographic study of the Bowerbirds -- the only living creatures outside of humankind (as far as we know) inclined to build fantastic structures and works of art, seemingly for the sole purpose of drawing mates. Part five of the program, the 2000 "Song of the Earth," has Attenborough attempting to define the common, intra-species purpose of musical communication, equally applicable to humpback whales, humans, and birds. As hosted by comedian and actor Michael Palin (Pole to Pole), part six, a 2002 special entitled "Life on Air," pays homage to Attenborough via a series of rare archival clips and telling interviews. And finally, in part seven, "The Amber Time Machine," Attenborough discusses and observes amber's unparalleled ability to preserve species from tens of millions of years ago.